The U.S. market for do-it-yourself yard and garden care is worth nearly $37 billion a year, and is growing at a steady pace. Led by millennials—soon to be the largest spending group in America—and a renewed interest in homegrown food, this burgeoning marketplace is ripe for IoT innovation. Modern green thumbs are more averse to using pesticides and other ‘non-natural’ garden aids than their predecessors, especially when it comes to growing their own food. And most casual gardeners, representing the bulk of consumers, often don’t have the time or energy needed to constantly maintain their investment. They either hire a gardener or tend to the garden when they can, risking loss. These market factors—green thinking and casual gardening—plus other industry drivers dovetail perfectly with what IoT can offer.
Introducing the 24/7 gardener
A gardener easily can convert his/her plot into a smart garden with a minor initial investment and low monthly fees. IoT sensors and smart all-weather cameras can be installed in strategic places in and around the garden, monitoring operations day and night. There is no disruption to the ongoing operation and the IoT equipment is essentially invisible, keeping the garden’s visual integrity intact.
Once in place, these devices can serve a variety of purposes depending on the owner’s requirements.
The soil has something to say
Soil sensors can regulate sprinkler use and even fine-tune where the water is applied. This ensures the parts of the garden that need more or less of a soaking always receive the correct amounts. If a gardener wishes to manually water, notifications can be sent to a smart phone indicating the ideal times and even how to water different sections. Sensors can be modified easily to accommodate various plant needs and stages of growth. This significantly eliminates the water waste generated by traditional automatic sprinklers (especially if left operational during rainy days) or overwatering by manual means. The same technology can be applied to grass maintenance, with brown/bare spots receiving more water attention than healthy areas.
Naturally, don’t be a pest
Pest control becomes much more simplified with IoT, potentially removing the need for toxic pesticides altogether. Sensor and smart cameras can be programmed to detect weeds, insects, and animal threats, with individualized responses for each.
- Employing a version of face recognition technology, the cameras can send alerts when an intrusive weed species suddenly pops up, before it can become a nuisance and require a more drastic (read: toxic) solution. If the plants/crops are arranged in defined rows, the cameras also can detect unusual growth where none should be, alerting the gardener there may be an issue.
- Insect pests can be similarly detected. In addition to alerts, the system can release all-natural ‘chemical weapons’ (citronella, tea tree, lavender, wild bergamot) to repel bugs before they can cause damage. The system is both highly sensitive and works in real time, so even a pest attempting to quickly lay eggs and leave would be thwarted.
- For animal invaders, the system can identify the individual species and take appropriate action based on that data (dispensing unpleasing scents, mimicking predator sounds, etc.) If the problem persists but the cameras show no visible invaders, underground motion sensors can be used to detect and track burrowing pests, including the amount of movement. This can help narrow down the type of (unseen) species involved. These efforts also eliminate the age-old “what is eating my plants?” question.
If a pest threat becomes serious enough, the data and video collected by the system can help garden professionals (nursery experts, agronomists) better formulate a solution rather than take an “I think this might work” approach.
IoT-enabled garden solutions offer the best of all worlds for home gardeners. They make it simple to implement green protocols and eliminate pesticide use, even for gardeners whose priority isn’t going organic. For casual gardeners, the solutions enable them to focus on what they love about gardening without worrying about all the things they don’t (pest control, constant watering, etc.) And gardeners of all types realize a more efficient and optimized operation that ultimately saves them money in the long run.
All of which makes the home gardening market the ideal opportunity for service providers.
For more information on how to make your garden grow even better, contact Aeris.